While the aftershocks of AMS/PGW's bankruptcy proceedings are still reverberating throughout trade publishing, the largest distributor of academic and scholarly books and journals has just completed another successful year. The Chicago Distribution Center, originally established by the University of Chicago in 1991 to warehouse titles for that university's press, had net revenue of $60 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2007, a 13% increase.
CDC has more than doubled the number of clients it distributes for in the past five years, to 59 presses. They range in size from its original, and largest client, the University of Chicago Press, to university presses in Europe. CDC also represents a few houses that are not affiliated with academic institutions but which maintain a university press—type list, like the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
CDC's 273,000-square-foot distribution center, located 13 miles from the University of Chicago Press's editorial offices, also houses the Chicago Digital Distribution Center, a short-run digital print facility, and Bibliovault, an electronic repository of 14,012 frontlist and backlist titles and one of the so-called DADs (Digital Asset Distributors).
CDC's POD capability allows CDC to print a book to meet demand until a new reprint comes in, Don Collins, CDC's head since 1991, explained. “It doesn't take many times for a book to be unavailable for the professor to assign another book.”
Most recently, the CDC has partnered with Quality Solutions to provide its clients with the title management system, Eloquence, which automatically configures publishers' title data into the different formats required by Bowker, wholesalers and large retailers, and relays that data and any subsequent changes to them. “It used to take a week to deal with all the different formats. Now it takes no time,” Gregory Britton, Minnesota Historical Society Press' executive director, said.
CDC's largest distribution channel is the independent bookstore market, accounting for 29% of book sales, followed by the education market at 23%. Library wholesalers accounted for 21% of sales, trade wholesalers 14% and the chains 13%.
The University of Iowa Press has been affiliated with CDC since 1998. Holly Carver, the press's director, described its previous distribution arrangement, with its parent institution, as “woefully inadequate. CDC has given us the tools to sell our books more intelligently.” —C.K.